Connect with us

News & Entertainment

Military Sexual Assault Reports Jump By 50 Percent

WASHINGTON (AP) — The number of reported sexual assaults across the military shot up by more than 50 percent this year, an increase that defense officials say may suggest that victims are becoming more willing to come forward after a tumultuous year of scandals that shined a spotlight on the crimes and put pressure on…

Published

on

WASHINGTON (AP) — The number of reported sexual assaults across the military shot up by more than 50 percent this year, an increase that defense officials say may suggest that victims are becoming more willing to come forward after a tumultuous year of scandals that shined a spotlight on the crimes and put pressure on the military to take aggressive action.

A string of high-profile assaults and arrests triggered outrage in Congress and set off months of debate over how to change the military justice system, while military leaders launched a series of new programs intended to beef up accountability and encourage victims to come forward.

According to early data obtained by The Associated Press, there were more than 5,000 reports of sexual assault filed during the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, compared to the 3,374 in 2012. Of those 2013 reports, about 10 percent involved incidents that occurred before the victim got into the military, up from just 4 percent only a year ago. That increase, officials said, suggests that confidence in the system is growing and that victims are more willing to come forward.

Asked about the preliminary data, defense officials were cautious in their conclusions. But they said surveys, focus groups and repeated meetings with service members throughout the year suggest that the number of actual incidents — from unwanted sexual contact and harassment to violent assaults — has remained largely steady.

“Given the multiple data points, we assess that this is more reporting,” said Col. Alan R. Metzler, deputy director of the Pentagon’s sexual assault prevention and response office. He also noted that more victims are agreeing to make official complaints, rather than simply seeking medical care without filing formal accusations.

The military has long struggled to get victims to report sexual harassment and assault in a stern military culture that emphasizes rank, loyalty and toughness. Too often, victims have complained that they were afraid to report assaults to ranking officers, or that their initial complaints were rebuffed or ignored.

As a result, the crime has been vastly under reported —- a fact that became evident when officials announced earlier this year that an anonymous survey had revealed that about 26,000 service members reported some type of unwanted sexual contact or sexual assault.

According to the latest numbers, the increase in reports across the services ranges from a low of about 45 percent for the Air Force to a high of 86 percent for the Marines, the smallest service. The Navy had an increase of 46 percent and the Army, by far the largest military service, had a 50 percent jump.

Jill Loftus, director of the Navy’s sexual assault program, which also includes the Marine Corps, said the increase in reporting also suggests that more service members are starting to understand what types of behavior constitute harassment or assault. She said that based on Navy surveys, “we are not seeing a perception that the number of incidents are going up.”

“More likely, we have people who understand what sexual assault is,” she said. And, she said, officials are hearing that more people are comfortable coming forward.

Meanwhile, a myriad of sexual assault arrests and scandals, including an Air Force commander’s decision to dismiss sex assault charges against another officer who had been convicted of multiple offenses, got the attention of Congress. And it all led to a series of often emotional public hearings in which victims described their experiences.

As Congress debated changes in the military’s justice system, the Pentagon and the services instituted new training programs that targeted rank-and-file service members as well as top commanders and officers.

Several of the new programs were aimed at encouraging service members to be more vigilant, and to look out for each other and intercede if they saw a bad situation developing. There also were moves to restrict alcohol sales, since drinking has long been associated with sexual assault and harassment.

By year’s end, after lengthy negotiations between Capitol Hill and the Pentagon, lawmakers passed legislation that beefs up legal rights for victims and strips military commanders of their ability to overturn jury convictions. It also requires a civilian review if a commander declines to prosecute a case and requires that any individual convicted of sexual assault face a dishonorable discharge or dismissal.

Defense officials beat back efforts to more drastically revamp the military justice system that would take authority away from commanders and allow victims of rape and sexual assault to go outside the chain of command for prosecutions.

Still, military leaders acknowledge a lot of work remains to be done.

Metzler said the goal for this year is to continue efforts to increase reporting while also working more directly to reduce the survey number of 26,000 sexual harassment and assault victims.

Already, the military services are exchanging information on prevention programs that seem to be working.

Air Force officials, for example, visited a Navy pilot program at Naval Station Great Lakes in Illinois that worked with local hotels and bars to try to crack down on drinking by sailors from the naval station there. In the program, sailors are being taught to intervene when they see mates in trouble or engaging in bad behavior.

Loftus said the goal this year will be to improve the training so that sailors will actually have to act out scenarios in order to help them figure out when it’s best to intervene and to ensure they have some type of plan before jumping into a situation.

Other programs that are being used more broadly include moves to cut hours of alcohol sales and the use of roving patrols of service members looking out for troops in trouble. She also said that some commanders are making their courts martial more public, publicizing the punishments for crimes, including sexual assault, and even holding cases on their parade fields, where all can watch.

“We’re still not where we want things to be,” said Metzler. “But we think all of this is having an effect.”

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

code

News & Entertainment

DEMI LOVATO TO SING NATIONAL ANTHEM AT SUPER BOWL LIV

Published

on

Multi-platinum singer, songwriter, DEMI LOVATO will sing the National Anthem as part of Super Bowl LIV pregame festivities at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami on Sunday, February 2, the NFL and FOX announced today. 

The pregame show, including the National Anthem, will be broadcast live worldwide.

Lovato is a Grammy-nominated singer, songwriter, actress, advocate, philanthropist, and business woman. Within hours of the release of Lovato’s fifth studio album, CONFIDENT, the first single, “Cool for the Summer” trended worldwide and hit #1 on iTunes in 37 countries.

Lovato will join a prestigious line up of Super Bowl National Anthem performers, including: Gladys Knight, Lady Gaga, Beyoncé, Luke Bryan, Whitney Houston, Diana Ross, Jennifer Hudson, Billy Joel, P!NK, Jordin Sparks, Idina Menzel, Mariah Carey, Alicia Keys, and Neil Diamond.

In addition, on behalf of the National Association of the Deaf (NAD), CHRISTINE SUN KIM, internationally renowned sound artist and performer, will sign the National Anthem in American Sign Language.

The NFL previously announced that Jennifer Lopez and Shakira will headline the Pepsi Super Bowl LIV Halftime Show.

Continue Reading

News & Entertainment

Tyler Perry Will Make His Netflix Debut With ‘A Fall From Grace’

Published

on

Now that Tyler Perry has ended the Madea franchise, and has his very own state-of-the-art production facility in Atlanta, GA, Perry is trying his hand at another thriller movie with his upcoming Netflix film, A Fall From Grace,

Crystal Fox, Phylicia Rashad, Bresha Webb, Mehcad Brooks, Cicely Tyson (Academy Award® Nominee) and Perry round out the cast. Perry also writes and directs A Fall from Grace, and it was the first to be completely filmed at his Atlanta studio.

The film follows a newly divorced woman named Grace Waters (Fox) who falls in love with a young man named Shannon (Brooks). But when secrets erode her short-lived joy, Grace’s vulnerable side turns violent

After being arrested for killing her new husband and awaiting for her upcoming trial, her lawyer (Webb) digs deep to find out the truth behind her husband’s alleged death and find a way to try to prove her innocence. “When you wake up, you don’t know that today will be the day to change your life,” says a disheveled and hand-cuffed Grace in the new montage of scenes.

A Fall from Grace arrives on Netflix on January 17th; add it to your watch-list here and check out the official trailer above.

Continue Reading

News & Entertainment

Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, returns to Canada after bombshell announcement

Published

on

The Duchess of Sussex has returned to Canada after she and Prince Harry announced they were “stepping back” as senior members of Britain’s royal family.

Prince Harry remains in the UK and Meghan is expected to come back to London on Tuesday, when the couple are set to attend an event with Janice Charette, High Commissioner of Canada to the UK, at Canada House.

Meghan and Harry wanted to meet with Charette “as well as staff to thank them for the warm Canadian hospitality and support they received during their recent stay in Canada,” according to a statement from Buckingham Palace.

The couple recently returned from Canada, where they spent the Christmas holidays with the duchess’ mother, Doria Ragland.

“The Duke and Duchess have a strong connection to Canada. It’s a country The Duke of Sussex has visited many times over the years and it was also home to The Duchess for seven years before she became a member of The Royal Family,” the royals said on their Instagram page, Sussex Royal, on Wednesday.

The latest developments follow the shock announcement that the pair plan to “transition into a new working model” and become “financially independent” after stepping back from their roles as senior members of the British royal family.

There was said to be a mood of deep disappointment in the palace following the announcement, and senior members of the family are hurt as a result of the news.

Meghan and Harry’s desire to become “financially independent” has also sparked questions as to how they will be able to do this.

The pair published detailed documents outlining the structure and funding of their household, which revealed they receive 5% of their income from the Sovereign Grant — a lump sum of UK taxpayers’ money given to the Queen every year — and 95% from the Duchy of Cornwall, the private estate controlled by Prince Charles, Harry’s father.

Media reports have suggested that Meghan was independently worth around $5 million before she married Harry, who inherited millions from his mother Princess Diana.

However UK newspaper The Times reports that Charles may withdraw funding from the couple if they completely withdraw from their royal duties.

Observers say the couple are unlikely to struggle for money and could generate income from a UK trademark for their brand ‘Sussex Royal,” which the couple applied for in June, as well as sponsorship or speaking tours.

Continue Reading

Trending

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This